* Gender "U"

Got general Family History research questions - this is the place
Post Reply
avatar
RikkiR
Gold
Posts: 13
Joined: 19 Dec 2020 11:24
Family Historian: V7

Gender "U"

Post by RikkiR » 28 Nov 2021 16:03

I have hit a brick wall with one of my great (x3) grandfathers and have been trying to find information on his son (my great (x2) grandfather) and his family to get some leads. I’ve searched online about this, in this site for questions about gender and on ScotlandsPeople and although I am pretty sure I’m correct in my assumption I have never seen it in writing to confirm my thoughts so I’m turning to here for advice from far more knowledgeable people than me :D

Two of the children (Elizabeth and Marrion) were born on 22/12/1797 and are on the same (Scottish) Parish Record of Births as Elizabeth and Marrion and the information seems to indicate they were twins. On ScotlandsPeople, Elizabeth’s gender is marked “F” however Marrion’s is marked “U”. I took it as the “U” meant gender unknown but I can find no record at all of her death. Am I correct is thinking the “U” stands for unknown ? To add to this, there was another Elizabeth born to the same parents in 1799 but again, I can find no Death Certificate for the first Elizabeth. Would I be correct in assuming that Marrion was stillborn and that is the reason there is no Death Certificate and is it possible that Elizabeth also died at roughly the same time and again, was not recorded or is that an assumption too far.

User avatar
ColeValleyGirl
Megastar
Posts: 3388
Joined: 28 Dec 2005 22:02
Family Historian: V7
Location: Cirencester, Gloucestershire
Contact:

Re: Gender "U"

Post by ColeValleyGirl » 28 Nov 2021 16:06

I've moved this to the 'Research' forum as it is about interpreting the information in sources, not about using FH.

User avatar
johnmorrisoniom
Megastar
Posts: 825
Joined: 18 Dec 2008 07:40
Family Historian: V7
Location: Isle of Man

Re: Gender "U"

Post by johnmorrisoniom » 28 Nov 2021 16:31

Gender U certainly could indicate "Unknown" as Marrion can also be a male name (Marion Morrison aka John Wayne)

User avatar
LornaCraig
Megastar
Posts: 2329
Joined: 11 Jan 2005 17:36
Family Historian: V7
Location: Oxfordshire, UK

Re: Gender "U"

Post by LornaCraig » 28 Nov 2021 16:45

To add to this, there was another Elizabeth born to the same parents in 1799 but again, I can find no Death Certificate for the first Elizabeth. Would I be correct in assuming that Marrion was stillborn and that is the reason there is no Death Certificate and is it possible that Elizabeth also died at roughly the same time and again, was not recorded or is that an assumption too far.
You won't find a death certificate dating from the 1790s. Statutory registrations of BMDs didn't start in Scotland until 1855. The Parish Registers section on ScotlandsPeople might have their burial records, but in my experience the PR burial records are far less complete than the baptism and marriage records.

Your assumption that the first Elizabeth died is entirely reasonable if you know the same parents had another daughter named Elizabeth. I have seen some families where the same name was used as many as four or five times, but no burial record for the earlier ones can be found.

I assume the 'U' is in the SP index, rather than in the original writing in the register? Have you looked at the image of the page?
Lorna

User avatar
AdrianBruce
Megastar
Posts: 1381
Joined: 09 Aug 2003 21:02
Family Historian: V7
Location: South Cheshire
Contact:

Re: Gender "U"

Post by AdrianBruce » 28 Nov 2021 16:53

RikkiR wrote:
28 Nov 2021 16:03
... Two of the children (Elizabeth and Marrion) were born on 22/12/1797 ... and the information seems to indicate they were twins. ...
Born? Or baptised? What does the image say? - if it says born, and the parents are the same, then it's clear that they are twins. If, on the other hand, it only says baptised, then you can't be certain - one (or both) could be a delayed baptism, so you can only be certain that they were baptised on the same day. On the other hand, I believe that Scottish practice tended to have children baptised very close to their birth, which perhaps makes delayed baptisms less likely in Scotland than England. On the other other hand, it's not unknown to see simple lists, particularly if the family was non-CofS but the CofS made, as they could do, a list...
RikkiR wrote:
28 Nov 2021 16:03
... On ScotlandsPeople, Elizabeth’s gender is marked “F” however Marrion’s is marked “U”. I took it as the “U” meant gender unknown ...
I would agree that's a sensible interpretation - Marion Robert Morrison (John Wayne!) comes to mind as the classic example of an unexpected Mar(r)ion gender. However, again I would ask - what's on the image? (You may be quoting the image but apologies - it's not clear). The fact that ScotlandsPeople index it as "U" does suggest that the OPR, for some reason, is not clear.
RikkiR wrote:
28 Nov 2021 16:03
... I can find no Death Certificate for the first Elizabeth. Would I be correct in assuming that Marrion was stillborn and that is the reason there is no Death Certificate and is it possible that Elizabeth also died at roughly the same time and again, was not recorded or is that an assumption too far.
Ah - pardon me, but you're missing the essential aspect of Scottish burial (seldom death) records from the Old Parish Registers. There aren't any. Well, very few. Most parishes either never bothered with burial records, or did them in a fit of enthusiasm for just a few years - after all, why would they do what the Sassenachs did? (Actually the real reason is that burials and even marriages weren't that important to the CofS - if you look at marriages, many are just records of couples submitting their intention to marry, not the marriage itself). Therefore missing burial records for Marrion and Elizabeth (1) don't mean anything unless you're in an area like central Dundee where the Howff registers record burials in the central cemetery - though even there, people could be buried elsewhere.

So sorry - it's all a bit flakey and uncertain - you are probably right. (PS - John and Lorna beat me to a lot of this...)
Adrian

User avatar
davidf
Superstar
Posts: 402
Joined: 17 Jan 2009 19:14
Family Historian: V6.2
Location: UK

Re: Gender "U"

Post by davidf » 28 Nov 2021 17:09

AdrianBruce wrote:
28 Nov 2021 16:53
Born? Or baptised? What does the image say? - if it says born, and the parents are the same, then it's clear that they are twins. If, on the other hand, it only says baptised, then you can't be certain - one (or both) could be a delayed baptism, so you can only be certain that they were baptised on the same day.
Another (rare) possibility - that I am suspecting in an Ulster line that I am trying to work through - is that you have two identically named fathers (cousins named after their paternal grandfather) and they both happened to marry wives with the same name. Then "family baptisms" are not apparently unknown where two or more related families get the children "done" as a "batch" (that may be over cynical - it could be a shared celebration)
David
Running FH 6.2.7. Under Wine on Linux (Lubuntu 18.04 LTS)

avatar
RikkiR
Gold
Posts: 13
Joined: 19 Dec 2020 11:24
Family Historian: V7

Re: Gender "U"

Post by RikkiR » 28 Nov 2021 17:28

John, Interesting thought about Marrion being a male name and checking in Scotlandspeople there is actually one registered in 1803 but the area is totally wrong so I am going to have to discount that. Thanks though.

Lorna,

My mistake calling it a Death Certificate, I of course should have stated that it was the (Scottish) Parish Record of Deaths I was talking about. So, yes, as the vast majority of my family are Scottish my normal practice is to go into the records in ScotlandsPeople be it birth / marriage / death / census / valuation rolls etc, find the record and download it. I have the record from the OPR for this birth and the record basically says

"1797 Dec 22nd. Elizabeth & Marrion lawful twins of James Taylor and Elizabeth Sheddon".

As you correctly say, the "U" comes from the ScotlandsPeople Church registers - Old Parish Registers Births and baptisms - Search results.

I think I am having to go with Marrion dying at birth with no record along with Elizabeth at some point between 1797 and 1799.

Thanks to both of you for your help.

And just as I was about to post this I have seen the other replies. :)

Adrian, on the record (the parish record of births) the first two handwritten columns clearly state "When Born". As I have other certificates from around this time, some tell you the date of birth, some the date of baptism and some both the date of birth and date baptised so I'm confident that this is the date of birth of both girls. It's always frustrating (to me) when you get to a point where you are "pretty sure" you are right but cannot find anything definitive to confirm but that's part of the joy of this hobby I guess :)

avatar
RikkiR
Gold
Posts: 13
Joined: 19 Dec 2020 11:24
Family Historian: V7

Re: Gender "U"

Post by RikkiR » 28 Nov 2021 17:41

David,
another very interesting take on this. The only record though that I can find for a James Taylor and Elizabeth Sheddon is a marriage in 1796 in Govan which ties in with all the other information on the family that I have as the vast majority is around that location. I'm definitely going to keep that thought of the identically named fathers as in my tree can be very confusing with various sons naming their sons after the grandfather if you see what I mean.

User avatar
AdrianBruce
Megastar
Posts: 1381
Joined: 09 Aug 2003 21:02
Family Historian: V7
Location: South Cheshire
Contact:

Re: Gender "U"

Post by AdrianBruce » 28 Nov 2021 20:54

RikkiR wrote:
28 Nov 2021 17:28
... "1797 Dec 22nd. Elizabeth & Marrion lawful twins of James Taylor and Elizabeth Sheddon".

As you correctly say, the "U" comes from the ScotlandsPeople Church registers - Old Parish Registers Births and baptisms - Search results.

I think I am having to go with Marrion dying at birth with no record along with Elizabeth at some point between 1797 and 1799. ...

Adrian, on the record (the parish record of births) the first two handwritten columns clearly state "When Born". As I have other certificates from around this time, some tell you the date of birth, some the date of baptism and some both the date of birth and date baptised so I'm confident that this is the date of birth of both girls. ...
OK - all that reassures me - apart from the fact that I still need to point out that you have no justification for suggesting Marrion died at birth - there appear to be two Govan registers for deaths / burials, one for 1817-19 and the 2nd for 1820-54 (impressed!) - see https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/files//re ... 21-660.pdf I'd agree that it's pretty certain that little Elizabeth died - unless (oh dear, there's always an "unless") ... unless the family followed a strict naming pattern in which case repeats are normal. (As if we didn't have enough issues!) But with no records of death or burial at that time, there's no evidence either way, other than there not being much evidence of her existence in later years.
Adrian

Post Reply